Monday, November 19, 2012

Plateaus & Valleys & Thanksgiving

Today was an interesting day in Istanbul.  I was invited to go to a conference at Maltepe University with my co-worker Prags, the high school counselor Dave, and my principal Yann.  The conference had to do with street children of the world and the effective interventions that make a difference in their lives.  I will simplify what I learned into one sentence... Human beings who have been through life traumas are broken, the only way to fix them is through loving relationship.

I have an interest in the lives of these children.  They break my heart and they are everywhere in this world. Istanbul does a good job of keeping them out of sight for the most part.  There are still the gypsy children.  Like the ones pictured above.  It was a Sunday afternoon in late October and I was waiting for the bus when this group of kids wandered by.  There were three of them without shoes.  Remember it's October...and it's Taksim Square.   Anyway... this trio sauntered past and I just covertly snapped a photo of their feet.  Right after I took the picture, a beggar came by asking for money... I pointed to the children's bare feet and told him no.  He looked at me and understood immediately what I was saying.  Maybe they were related, who knows. I see kids working everytime I go to Taksim, selling water or flowers, or playing a plastic flute.  I once saw a young boy, it was mid day in August, he was sleeping on the concrete doorstep of a side alleyway.  Maybe he was 7 or 8.  Nearby there were some older men having tea.  I hate this with a passion.  One night there was a group of us drinking at "the local" (our neighborhood Cheers) and this little girl, (about 10 I would judge) came by the bar to sell roses... no one buys me roses anymore, and everyone at our table either declined or ignored her.  She smiled kindly at me, shyly, and sprinkled rose petals on my head.  That will stand out for me the rest of my life as a holy moment.  It was about 1 AM and she was working.  I saved some of the petals.

It's Thanksgiving time as I write this.  Thursday marks the day of traditional feasting and harvest thanksgiving to GOD who made all things.  I came home tonight and thought about my children and holidays past when we all gathered to eat and drink and laugh over card games and board games and inside family jokes.  I will miss that so very much this year.  I cried a bit thinking about it and how my family really no longer will circle around my house for the holidays.  It made me quite sad until I remembered this blog I had begun drafting a couple weeks back. 

While I have a passion for serving the lost and the poor of this world... I can also become lost in my own way... inside of my own pity party... feeling regret and sorrow over small things.   I thought about this blog topic - I had really been trying to get back into writing about the homeless kids, but just wasn't feeling inspired.  Until tonight... and you know what inspired me?  My own self pity.  No family around, living in a foreign land, no Thanksgiving holiday, and just for fun, the man I felt I had a bit of connection with and was looking forward to seeing at an event... well he stopped talking to me last week and was a no-show at a Sunday get together.  Yes, I've been feeling very sorry for myself.  Poor, poor me.

This young boy is about 15 years old.  He was working in Sultanahment, picking through the trash for recyclables.  That's what a lot of the gypsy folks do for work.  And they all do something.  You can see by the shirt that he is wearing that this is not easy or pleasant.  He will drag that bin until it is full when he will then take it to a truck somewhere, empty it, and get back to work filling it again.  I don't take pictures of their faces, though they do know how to smile for a camera.  I do not want to invade their pride or their sorrow.  For him, I think it was just another day.

So yeah, I feel sorry for myself because I won't get to eat a plateful of turkey this Thursday, and I dont' have a boyfriend to buy me roses, and I won't get to play apples to apples with my daughter and sons this holiday.  My bank account is empty thanks to some rummy renters, and I will probably eat kofte and have too much wine Thursday after work, and then I will go back in then next day to finish my week.  Poor poor me.

Two teenage girls who dig through the trash in Ortokoy to fill a bin that is taken to the recylcable truck.  Some people leave stuff on the side of the road in the bushes for them.


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